There is no doubt you would have heard about the awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets of Bagan or seen them on Instagram and quite truly, catching sunrise and sunset in Bagan is a must. In a vast area surrounded by over 2,000 ancient red-brick temples, Bagan is one of Myanmar’s most magical places. When here, don’t be tempted to sleep in late or head back to your hotel before dark because it’s at sunrise and sunset that Bagan shows it’s true beauty; a landscape drenched in golden light and morning mist, hot air balloons and locals starting their day. But where are the best places to watch the sunrise and sunset in Bagan? Keep reading to find out.
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WHAT IS BAGAN?
Much like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan is an archaeological zone located in the central Mandalay Region of Myanmar (Burma). The area consists of over 2,000 temples strewn across this vast plain of dry grasses and shrubs. The temple complex is surrounded by small villages, Nyaung-U, Old Bagan and New Bagan which all make great places to base yourself to see the surrounding area.
For the full Bagan Travel Itinerary click here.
CAN YOU CLIMB THE TEMPLES?
In 2016, a strong earthquake damaged many of the temples, weakening them further. Many of the temples were closed for a while to allow time for restoration and as a result, local regulation now forbids the climbing of them in order to protect them. Bagan is, after all, Myanmar’s most important and popular archaeological site, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unless otherwise stated, do not climb the temples as you could get into quite a bit of trouble.
THE BEST SUNRISE AND SUNSET SPOTS
Even though it isn’t possible to climb the temples anymore, it is still very much possible to take in the tremendous sunrises in sunsets in Bagan. Since the closing of the temples, the government has constructed some artificial mounds and viewing towers in the area which have great views of the whole plain at sunrise and sunset but these do get crowded. Here are some of the best spots in the area for the best sunrise and sunset in Bagan now that temple climbing is no longer allowed.
In recent years the government has created a few somewhat elevated mounds on which you can get a nice view of the area. There a quite a few mounds dotted around which can be found on Google Maps and Maps.me which provide a great offline service. The two most popular mounds are located close to Sulamani Pagoda and near Pwar Saw village. The downside to the mounds is that they can go from being relatively crowded to absolutely packed so you’ll no doubt be sharing this experience with plenty others. If you’re in Bagan during the low season, this is definitely something I’d recommend looking into.
THE VIEWING TOWER
Apart from the mounds, there’s also the newly constructed viewing tower which, if you don’t mind the streams of people is another sunrise or sunset option. Note that there are fewer people at sunrise, so this might be a good option for early in the morning. The view from the tower is the highest view you’ll get of the area and even though it’s a pretty ugly, modern building- disrupting the glorious, ancient surroundings you’ll get a great view from here, there’s no doubt. In my opinion, it is worth it, if at least just for a few great photos.
It’s probably not the first place you’ll hear about when it comes to viewing the sunrise or sunset in Bagan but there are some incredible hotels just a stone’s throw away from the ruins. From a few of them you can relax by the pool early in the morning and take in the morning sunrise and the beautiful hot-air balloon display or sip cocktails in the evening watching the incredible, golden sunset.
One of the best places to stay, if at least for just one night to really take advantage of the temple views is Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort.
This pretty 5-star hotel has an amazing view both from the pond and their pool for both sunrise and sunset. Even if you don’t normally fork out so much on a hotel stay, it definitely is worth it for just one night to be able to take in the beautiful sunrise and sunset views. You’ll see the balloons take off in the morning from just across the lake and the reflection in the water is somewhat amazing.
Temple View Bagan, is another good option that’s more affordable. From its rooftop and guestrooms, you can see a number of small temples nearby that glow beautifully in the sunrise and sunset light of Bagan.
FROM AN OPEN SPACE
Nowadays, with it being close to impossible to get high without disrespecting the rules or damaging fragile temples, the next best thing to do is to get out into open space. If it’s one thing Bagan doesn’t lack its temples and open space and one of the best ways to admire the sunset, especially if you want to get away from the crowds is to find yourself a random open space.
You’ll find many dusty tracks that lead into what looks like nowhere and these are the best to follow. You’ll find yourself in an open area surrounded by temples, hot- air balloons taking off and a picture-perfect golden sky with no one else around.
I found a few great open spaces, perfect for watching the sunrise and sunset during my trip but unfortunately I didn’t note down the coordinates. Doh! I encourage you to explore, however- keep your eye out for great open spaces during your first day and come back to them for sunrise and sunset.
HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE
Running at quite a pricey $300 per person, the hot air balloon ride isn’t for everyone but it certainly is one of the best ways to enjoy a sunrise in Bagan. It’s one of those bucket list experiences that you get the chance to do just once. Imagine a golden-pink sky punctuated by the darkened silhouettes of balloons flying over a vast, flat plain of thousands of beautiful red-brick temples which represent a thousand years of history. You’ll end your sunrise balloon ride not only in awe but with a glass of sparkling wine in hand to toast the truly electrifying moment.
If you are looking for a hot-air balloon ride, Golden Eagle via Get Your Guide seems to have the best reviews and prices.
Note that hot air balloons only fly in the dry season (October-May).
Do you have any comments or questions about where to watch the sunrise and sunset in Bagan? Let me know below, I’d love to hear about your trip.
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